Heat Pump vs Furnace: Which Is Right For Your Home?

February 8, 2013

In Northern California, there are two basic forms of central home heating – furnaces and heat pumps.

But it can be difficult to know which one is right for your home. The truth is, it really depends on what you are looking for.

In this blog, we’ll break down the pros and cons of both heat pumps and furnaces in order to help you decide.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are unique devices. They are air conditioners that can also work in reverse to heat your home.

Instead of creating heat, like a furnace does, heat pumps move heat from one point to another.

For example, in the summer heat pumps move heat from your home and deposit it outside. In the winter, the process is reversed and heat is moved from outside into your home.

Pros of heat pumps:

  • Work efficiently year-round. One investment can help you reduce your heating and cooling bills.
  • More environmentally friendly. Heat pumps can create one-and-a-half to three times more heat energy than they consume.

Cons of heat pumps:

  • Typically more expensive than furnaces. Although, you are also getting an efficient air conditioner.
  • May require a backup heat source. For extremely cold nights in Northern California, backup or supplementary heat (such as a furnace) may be required.

Gas Furnaces

The most common type of heating in Northern California homes is a gas furnace.

Furnaces create heat by burning natural gas. The heat is transferred to the air and spreads through your home.

Pros of gas furnaces

  • Less expensive than heat pumps. Although you will need to upgrade your air conditioner separately to get the same year-round savings.
  • Can be very energy efficient. Gas furnaces can be rated up to 97% AFUE, which means they convert 97% of the gas they consume into heat.

Cons of gas furnaces

  • Not as energy efficient as heat pumps. However, gas costs much less than electricity, so a new furnace can still save you money.
  • Works even on the coldest nights – no backup heat source needed.

Which one is right for you?

To decide if a heat pump or furnace will serve your home better, you really need to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.

For example, if energy efficiency and being “green” is the most important to you, a heat pump is your best option. However, if you just purchased a new air conditioner, it may not make sense to spend the extra money on a heat pump so soon.

Need more help making the decision? Schedule a free estimate with Service Champions and we can give you a more accurate idea of prices.

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